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Bits & Pieces: 2012 was a year to remember in Howard County sports

I recall telling my father that I couldn't wait to turn 21 and he told me not to be in such a rush because your life will flash past in the blink of an eye.

This last year was here and then in a moment it was gone. However, when I look at the year as a whole I can say that it was a success and full of notable events. Two of the ablest administrators — Jim Carlan in soccer, and Robert Vigorito in endurance sports — each decided to step down within a month or so of each other.

Fortunately, the high schools kept us busy once again with resounding athletic success. Glenelg won its third consecutive field hockey state championship, while Atholton won its first. Marriotts Ridge won a golf state championship for the first time, and the Reservoir girls won their school's first cross country state championship.

Howard County once again had a windfall of success in soccer, as the Marriotts Ridge and Reservoir boys, and the River Hill girls all added to their already well-stocked trophy cases.

River Hill won its fourth state football championship in the past six years and also captured the state wrestling title.

We were also blessed with countless individual champions, most notably Marriotts Ridge freshman Bennett Buch winning a state golf title in record breaking fashion and being joined atop the podium by Atholton's Bryana Nguyen; Centennial's Nathan Kraisser becoming Howard County's first ever four-time state wrestling champion; and Oakland Mills freshman Britt Lang winning the 2A state cross country championship.

This year in high school sports also saw the introduction of artificial turf fields to Howard County at three schools. Blandair Park opened providing even more fields for sports activity.

And who could forget the courage of Zach Lederer and the Zaching craze that touched people here and abroad or the incredible success story of the McFadden sisters, Tatyana and Hannah, at this year's London Paralympics. Tatyana in particular, with her three gold medals, turned in an unforgettable performance.

All in all a pretty good year. Here's hoping that we will all have a happy and healthy 2013.

Always do your best

I once coached a Little League baseball team with a number of good athletes on it. One of the players who had more heart than talent played the minimum time as required by league rules. During the championship game, we were either tied or behind by a single run in the last inning. I checked the bench to make sure I had used all of our players. Sitting on the bench was this young fella who just happened to be the smallest kid on the team and who had not had a hit all season. I sent him to the plate and he closed his eyes and hit a clean, game-winning single. After he stopped jumping for joy, I asked him how he did it.

"I just closed my eyes, swung, and did the best I could do," he said.

"...the best I could do" is the key. I recall at a triathlon many years ago a woman, not appearing to me to be in the best shape, still completing the entire course. She finished well after all but a few individuals had departed the scene. I still recall what she said after finally sitting down for a well-earned rest: "at least I gave it my best shot."

Both athletes could have quit but both decided to hang on. We can't ask for anything more than that. Quitting is easy. Giving your best is more difficult but often more rewarding.

Only losers run up the score

Coaches who run up the score on an opponent always have an excuse. The latest example came recently when a high school basketball coach in Indiana claimed that he played his entire bench while watching his team crush another, 107-2. That coach should have been dismissed.

However, we seem to applaud other instances of running up a score on an opponent. We have named a major college award, the Heisman Trophy, after a man, who in 1916 enjoyed watching his Georgia Tech team beat Cumberland College, 222-0. He was motivated by revenge because Cumberland beat his baseball team a year earlier, 22-0. I respect his great college record but a prestigious award? Come on now.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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